TOKYO (AP) — U.S. President Joe Biden pledged on Monday that he would launch a new trade pact with “concrete benefits” for the people of the Indo-Pacific region that aims to demonstrate U.S. commitment to the controversial trade deal. economic sector and address the need for business stability after disruptions caused by the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
During a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Biden said the new Indo-Pacific economic framework would also strengthen U.S. cooperation with other countries in the region.
The White House said the framework would help U.S. and Asian economies work more closely together on issues including supply chains, digital trade, clean energy, worker protections and anti-corruption efforts. Details still need to be negotiated among member states, so it is difficult for the administration to say how the deal will deliver on its promise to help American workers and businesses meet global demand at the same time.
The countries that signed the framework will be announced on Monday during Biden’s visit to Tokyo for talks with Kishida. It is the latest move by the Biden administration to try to maintain and expand U.S. influence in a region that until recently appeared to be under growing Chinese influence.
Kishida held a formal state welcome ceremony for Biden at Akasaka Palace, including a military honor guard in white and a band in the front plaza. Reviewing the assembled troops, Biden put his hand on his chest as he passed the American flag and bowed slightly as he passed the Japanese standard.
In his brief remarks, Kishida said he was “very pleased” to welcome Biden to Tokyo on his first trip to Asia during his presidency. Along with Biden, he took a tough stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying it “undermined the foundations of the global order.”
Biden, who is on a five-day visit to South Korea and Japan, called the U.S.-Japan alliance “a cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific” and thanked Japan for its “strong leadership” that has come forward to Russia.
The White House announced plans in October to create an economic framework to replace the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the United States withdrew from in 2017 under then-President Donald Trump.
The new deal comes as the government sees itself as having an advantage in the competition with Beijing. A Bloomberg Economics report released last week predicted U.S. GDP growth of about 2.8% in 2022, compared with 2% in China, which has struggled to contain the coronavirus through strict lockdowns while also tackling real estate Foam. The economic slowdown has weakened the assumption that China will automatically replace the United States as the world’s leading economy.
“The U.S. will grow faster than China this year for the first time since 1976, and it’s a very compelling example of how countries in the region should think about trends and trajectories,” said White House National Security Advisor Jack Sullivan. .
Critics say the framework has huge flaws. It will not incentivize potential partners by reducing tariffs or providing signatories with more access to the U.S. market. The restrictions may not make the U.S. framework an attractive alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is moving forward after the U.S. bailout. China, the largest trading partner for many in the region, is also seeking to join the TPP.
“I think a lot of partners will look at this list and say, ‘This is a good list of questions. I’m happy to be a part of it,'” Matthew Goode, former director of the International Economics Division at the National Security Council during President Obama’s administration Mann said. But he said they might also ask, “Are we going to gain any tangible benefit from participating in this framework?”
Countries have the potential to be part of both trade agreements.
Biden’s first stop on Monday was for a private meeting with Japan’s Emperor Naruhito at the palace’s lush Naruhito residence before his talks with Kishida.
The two leaders are also preparing to meet the families of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea decades ago. The Japanese prime minister took office last fall and wants to strengthen ties with the United States and build a personal relationship with Biden. He will host the president for dinner at a restaurant.
The launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, also known as the IPEF, has been hailed by the White House as one of the key moments in Biden’s trip to Asia and one of his ongoing efforts to strengthen ties with allies in the Pacific. Through it all, government officials have been keeping a close eye on China’s growing economic and military power in the region.
In September, the United States announced a new partnership with Australia and the United Kingdom called AUKUS aimed at deepening security, diplomatic and defense cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Through cooperation with AUKUS, Australia will purchase nuclear-powered submarines and the United States will increase the deployment of rotational forces to Australia.
The US president is also very concerned about the informal coalition known as the Quartet, formed during the response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed some 230,000 people. Biden and other leaders of the coalition, which also includes Australia, India and Japan, will gather in Tokyo for their second in-person meeting in less than a year. The two leaders have also held two video calls since Biden took office.
Earlier this month, Biden summoned representatives of nine of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to a summit in Washington, the group’s first summit in the U.S. capital. Biden announced at the summit that the United States will invest about $150 million in clean energy and infrastructure programs in ASEAN countries.
Sullivan confirmed on Sunday that Taiwan, which seeks to join the IPEF framework, was not among the governments to be included. China’s claim to its own self-governing island of Taiwan, if involved, could anger Beijing.
Sullivan said the United States wants to deepen its economic partnership with Taiwan, including one-to-one cooperation on high-tech issues and semiconductor supply.
Biden will wrap up his five-day meeting in Asia on Tuesday with one-on-one talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australia’s new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
The centre-left leader of Australia’s Labor Party defeated incumbent Scott Morrison this weekend, ending nine years of conservative rule.
Modi, the leader of the world’s largest democracy, has refused to join the United States and other allies in imposing sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. During a video call last month, Biden asks Modi not to accelerate purchases of Russian oil.
Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.